Here are three quotes on American holiday, thanksgiving, and an American bird, turkey, by the three American leaders. The first quote is by President Washington on the first national proclamation of Thanksgiving. The second quote is proclamation issued by President Lincoln establishing the Thanksgiving as national holiday. The third quote is by founding father Franklin on why turkey, the symbolic thanksgiving meal, should be the national bird instead of the bald eagle. (Related Post: Immigrant’s American Turkey)
President George Washington made the first national Thanksgiving Day proclamation under the Constitution in following way.
“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.’
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation…”
Thanksgiving Day Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln establishing it as a national holiday occurring on the last Thursday of November is states in the following proclamation.
“The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the everwatchful providence of almighty God….”
The symbolic meal of Thanksgiving, the native American bird turkey, was favored by Benjamin instead of bald eagle as our national emblem. Here’s the founding father’s argument:
“For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly; you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk; and, when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him, and takes it from him…..”
“I am, on this account, not displeased that the figure is not known as a bald eagle, but looks more like a turkey.
For in truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America. Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey was peculiar to ours; the first of the species seen in Europe, being brought to France by the Jesuits from Canada, and served up at the wedding table of Charles the Ninth. He is, besides (though a little vain and silly, it is true, but not a worse emblem for that) a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.”
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